Water is the stuff of life, but it seems bigger than life somehow. It can cleave stone; it can soothe and soften. It can be calm or raging, icy cold or boiling hot, murky ...
Water is the stuff of life, but it seems bigger than life somehow. It can cleave stone; it can soothe and soften. It can be calm or raging, icy cold or boiling hot, murky or transparent.
For an artist, water is all that and more; it is constantly moving, reflects crazily everything on its surface, and appears to warp objects below its surface. It has more color, more light, more vibrancy than any pigments yet created. It shimmers, it shimmies.
This mercurial, Mad Hatter quality of water makes it irresistibly fascinating to paint.
Fortunately, Washington state has water in abundance, and as I was to find, painting a cascading mountain stream can be an exhilarating experience.
I set out for the Dosewallips River, camping about halfway up its raging, foaming way from an alpine birth high in the Olympic Mountains down to Hood Canal.
A long section of the upper river road was carried away during flood season a few years ago, leaving me to backpack into Elkhorn campground, where I was to be surrounded for two days with the river’s neverending roar.
I was delighted to find I had the place to myself, and although I could look up through the trees and see pristine blue skies, little direct sunlight found its way into the deep gorge the river had carved by this mighty river.
Hiking upriver, I stopped near Constance Creek to paint wet, black rocks framed by the sparkling, fast-moving water.
Sitting comfortably on a van-sized boulder, trying to wrest the river’s cold, glacial green color out of my palette, it seemed silly to attempt to freeze all this movement and commotion onto a piece of 8-by-11 inch paper. But it also occurred to me that for sheer pleasure, you can’t beat taking a crack at it.
Paul Schmid: 206-464-2169 or firstname.lastname@example.org
This is the sixth in a yearlong series of watercolors by Seattle Times staff artist Paul Schmid. The artwork, depicting scenes from Washington state, runs the second Sunday of each month in Travel. If you would like a reprint for personal use, contact the Resale Department at 206-464-3113 or email@example.com. The images are reproduced on 13-by-19-inch watercolor paper and are suitable for framing. To see these and previous watercolors online, go to www.seattletimes.com/travel.